In the past few weeks, I’ve encountered three persons who treat punctuality as an unimportant and unnoticeable matter. In totality, they wasted about two hours of my time, which is very important and noticeable to me.
I write this post – which will take you less than five minutes to read – to tell you that you do yourself, as well as the people you’re holding up, a grave disservice.And that I won’t hesitate to tell you off right there and then. Perhaps I’ll be nice about it, but I’ll still do it. Also because you deserve it.
I believe most of us want to be upright and good, or at least perceived as such. The imagery of knights continue to inspire many young kids to heroism or at least gentlemanly behavior. Key attributes of a knight would surely include bravery, chivalry and a serious code of honor. But most people probably won’t associate them with punctuality. (In reality, the knights of old were probably a boorish lot.)
It’s unfortunate that King Arthur never spoke at length on getting jousting tournaments to start on time, and I find it even worse that there’s a modern English term “fashionably late”.
Fashion is never late, and late is never in fashion, people.
Punctuality frames peoples’ impression of you so quickly. Think about it, for every minute that you have yet to turn up without a good reason or forewarning, your reputation drops in tandem. When you do finally arrive, do you expect people to treat you with a smile or a scowl?
And conversely, for a person who is consistently on time for meetings and dates, people come to know him as rock-solid reliable when it comes to keeping time.
If you have trouble with punctuality, it might help to get a good wristwatch with fresh batteries.
I’m not sure at which point in my life did I begin to value punctuality as a virtue. But definitely before I started work.
Even as a journalist (where is the norm to be “fashionably late”, a terrible excuse for poor time management and slow typing skills), I abhorred being late for press conferences or interviews. What if I missed a great soundbite? What if I missed an awesome photo opportunity?
Yet the PR industry feeds this behavior by organizing events with the expectation that journalists would turn up 30-60min late. So I would be there on time, and yet have to wait an hour for anything significant to happen.
Times are a changing, folks. With greater workloads, more email and less work-life balance, every minute is more precious than ever. If you’re going to be late, at least inform your receiving party in advance with a quick call or SMS.
Don’t assume people have the spare time to wait for you, or that we accept lateness as a practice.
There’s nothing more rude than a person turning up late without any warning, and then when he does appear, he pretends that there’s absolutely nothing wrong.
I regret to say, I won’t let you continue to think that way.
Ok, my time is up. Thanks for reading.